A/N: My muse is a very equal opportunity creature – while Leia had fun in Vader's Own, said muse decided to let the baby-brother have a go, too. However, since Luke is a … ahem, much more gentle soul, and therefore wouldn't fit with the same sort of foil as his sister does, another setup had to be found … ;-)
This is an AU story and since I'm already messing with the storyline as such, I have made it so that Luke tells Leia, "There is something I need to check out. I'll be back in time to rescue Han," and hops into his X-Wing to Dagobah, as soon as an Alliance doctor pronounces him fit to fly; instead of gallivanting all over the galaxy for a year before they go to rescue Han. I can't see Luke letting that sort of existential question hang in the air for a year, let alone the rest of the Jedi training that logically should have come quite handy before that stunt in Jabba's palace …. (The Luke at the beginning of ROTJ behaves a lot more Jedi-like than the one at the end of ESB, without any additional training … huh?)
Oh, and what happened on screen in ESB, happened. Deleted / never properly filmed scenes need not apply, no matter what the novelization / EU says ….
On hindsight, it was downright embarrassing.
Still reeling from the revelations at Bespin – and not exactly reassured by Obi-wan's rationalizations and Yoda's last words and subsequent disappearing act – Luke had entered the coordinates for his first jump away from Dagobah more or less blindly. Jumping straight into a sun, accidentally, wasn't much of an issue for those attuned to the Force – however incompletely – and years of commanding hit-and-run attacks against the Empire had ingrained the habit of performing a whole series of random jumps before returning to the Alliance fleet, in any case.
Upon reversion to realspace, however, he had promptly come this close to splattering his X-wing all over the SSD Executor's colossal armored underbelly. Force-enhanced reflexes and resilience had allowed him to pull up at an impossibly steep angle, his shields stripped away by scraping across the dreadnought's much more powerful ones but otherwise undamaged.
Nevertheless, that behemoth of a ship was kilometers wide in any direction; her crew had a leisurely fifteen seconds before the young rebel pilot could clear the immediate range of her tractor beams. With his father aware of his presence before Luke could even process the massive wall of durasteel plating suddenly looming in front of him, they had a lock on the X-wing in less than ten.
If the Force really was with him, the young Jedi decided, it had a questionable sense of humor.
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Given Luke's firm lodging at the top of the Empire's Most Wanted list, the actual arrest was surprisingly civil.
Unwilling to take the risk of significant resistance, the tractor beam had dragged him through the range of an ion cannon, leaving his X-wing dead-in-space and his sword hand numb and tingly.
Deposited in the middle of a side hangar set apart from the cavernous main bays – but which could have housed all of Rogue Squadron and then some, regardless – the captured rebel found an entire company of stormtroopers awaiting him.
Line upon line of white armor, arrayed in a staggered formation so precise it might have been the honor guard for some visiting dignitary, if not for the ready gun each and every one of them was aiming at Luke's head. Stun-shots, all of them, the young Jedi was sure, though that didn't give him much more of a choice.
A repair hoist pulled the canopy off his disabled fighter, a black-clad commander demanded that Luke left the ship and surrendered his weapons, and that was that.
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Up and left and up and straight ahead and up and left again … if that's really the shortest way from hangar to sickbay, something has gone very wrong with the design of the ship. Or there's more than one sickbay. Or …, the young Jedi reluctantly gave up the useless attempt to distract himself from the coming confrontation.
Anyways, on arrival a medidroid with the cool but professional politeness of its kind ran Luke through a standard check-up, fussed a bit due to the amount of unspecified microorganisms the young Jedi carried with him – Dagobah was teeming with life of any description, if mostly harmless once it got below the eat-you-for-breakfast size – and insisted on a thorough shower, even as it presented Luke with a clean bill of health.
His guards – a full dozen stormtroopers plus the aforementioned commander – weren't too happy to let the captured rebel leave their sights, but could apparently live with having the droid supervise his ablutions when Luke put his foot down on stripping in front of them. Their acquiescence should have warned him, the young Jedi decided afterwards, when he found that the droid had disposed of his 'contaminated' flight suit; which left Luke the choice of facing a Sithlord cum estranged parental figure (to say nothing of the rest of the ship's hundreds of thousands of crewmen) in the buff, or dressing in a plain black uniform, devoid of any rank markings but very obviously of Imperial design.
The only upshot of the foreign uniform was that the commander was visibly as unhappy to see the notorious rebel wear his own colors as said rebel was himself.
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A surprisingly short walk later, the commander – who had kept stonily silent beyond the most necessary words – gestured Luke into a room the latter would have called a ready room, if not for its impractical distance to the hangars and the distinctively un-lived-in feeling to it. Not a prison cell, certainly – though the young Jedi could feel the multitudes of troops positioned around him – but … some sort of waiting room, perhaps?
A high-class one of whatever it was, the former farmboy decided on closer inspection of the nearest chair, a deceptively simple but obviously pricey affair of burnished durasteel and black Nerf leather. Remarkably comfy, too, but Luke had barely settled into the high-backed seat when the solid block of dark, icy fire, that had been grating against the edges of his Force perceptions since the moment he had fallen out of hyperspace, sheared through his carefully erected walls of calmness.
Regarding the swirl of billowing armorweave and the way the overhead lights reflected off gleaming black durasteel under purely aesthetic aspects, gave the young Jedi a few seconds to regain his composure before he had to face the imposing Sithlord as an actual person.
Curiously enough, the black-armored giant seemed hesitant to speak first, too.
"Son," he said finally.
Luke gulped. But if that was how Vader wanted to play it ….
"Father," he gave back.
A tension, the young Jedi hadn't realized was there until it receded, fell away and the dark fire withdrew with it, until it was an – almost comfortably ignorable – background glow.
"So, you have accepted the truth," the deep mechanic voice rumbled.
No! Never! a sharp voice at the back of Luke's mind shrieked. Aloud he said, "I've accepted that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father."
Wrong thing to say, apparently.
"That name no longer has any meaning for me!" the Dark Lord snapped, the black flames roaring back into full blaze.
Sympathetically roused passion drowned out any fear the display of power might have enkindled in Luke's mind. "It is the name of your true self! How can I be your son if you aren't him?!"
The dark fire licked towards him as if drawn by the sudden surge of emotion, and, abruptly sobered, the young Jedi forced himself to calm down again.
"You've only forgotten," he tried to argue. "I know there is still good in you. The Emperor hasn't driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn't destroy me. That's why you won't bring me to your Emperor, now."
"You are my son. You will take your place within the Empire accordingly," was the less than reassuring answer, but at least the encroaching flames backed down again.
"For now," Vader went on, after a few seconds of tense silence, "you will have unlimited access to every part of this ship – while accompanied by an officer of mine, for … a certain settling-in phase."
Say again? Before Luke could express his opinion of this generous offer, the Sithlord touched a device at his belt and a young man in grey entered swiftly and came sharply to attention beside Lord Vader. Four platelets on his chest made the man a lieutenant, if the young rebel remembered correctly.
"The lieutenant will stay at your side at all times," Vader confirmed, and then went on, gesturing at the man though not addressing him, "you may consider him your personal aide. He will answer every question you may have, lead you anywhere you want to go."
"He will also show you how to use this," a squat silver cylinder with a clip attached, like a short, thick pen, was brandished momentarily and handed to the lieutenant for safekeeping. "This code cylinder is authorized for unlimited physical access."
"Including the hangar bays?" Luke asked sarcastically.
"Including the hangar bays, naturally," an irritated mechanic growl gave back.
"Of course," Vader went on, "his orders are to use all means necessary, excluding those causing permanent harm, to keep you from actually leaving the ship."
Still doesn't sound like too bad odds, once I've both R2-D2 and my X-Wing back ….
As if to answer his thoughts – though the darkness had kept well out of Luke's head – the Sithlord added, "As you have access to the Force, my son, and he hasn't, it shouldn't be too hard for you to elude him, nonetheless."
The black flames roiled, agitated in a way the young Jedi couldn't decipher. There was no mistaking the threat in the following words, though. "In that case, however, I shall hold him responsible for the loss."
A black gauntlet gestured. One of the chairs nearby folded up abruptly, durasteel supports snapping like twigs, one after the other, before the thick, tough leather started tearing down the middle of the high back and kept tearing, until there was nothing left but shreds and splinters. The implication, of what the displayed forces would do with far less mechanically resilient flesh and bone, was unmistakable.
The young lieutenant was pale but unsurprised. Either he had been briefed beforehand on the potential consequences of his mission, or … or this sort of behavior was just par for the course for Lord Vader. Luke really, really hoped it was the former.
The only practical choice, of course, was to dismiss the threat immediately. What was one more Imperial dead against the literally uncounted ones he had already caused?
And yet, the young rebel found himself running smack into one of the main conundrums of war: it was far easier to destroy enemy fighters, little more than blips on the targeting screen, in the do-or-die rush of battle; to deliberately condemn a man, about his own age – probably not an orphan, the back of Luke's mind whispered, he has a family, maybe a girlfriend, somewhere – to a slow and horrible death, after looking him in the eye, was quite another thing.
Perhaps expecting more of a reaction, the Sithlord bit out a curt, "We will talk more, in the evening," when the awkward pause grew too lengthy, before he whirled suddenly and stalked out of the room.